Best Alternatives to Cow Milk
A few months back, an old friend visited us along with her 2year old son. What a beautiful evening it was, with lots of school time memories relished over some good food. Very casually, I checked on her if she wanted to feed her son evening milk. Her reaction to the question was awful, to which I learned that the little boy had certain issues with Cow Milk. While we discussed this, we thought to seek medical advice from our pediatrician.
She was planning a shift from Formula Milk to Cow’s milk and it looked somewhat difficult. Her toddler developed rashes twice whenever she tried. Well, he had “Milk Allergy” and she was always confused about the right substitute. Being a mom of a growing toddler, she was concerned about his nutritional needs.
Cow’s milk is one of the richest sources of Protein, Calcium, Vitamin D (usually all kinds of milk are fortified with Vit D), Vitamin B12 and non-consumption of milk might hinder the growth phase of a child. While a lot of Calcium comes from Cheese, Seeds and nuts, Leafy greens, we cannot expect a child to complete the RDA from these per day.
As parents, we need to ensure that the calcium & protein requirements are met as:
- Milk alternatives (shared below)
- Diet Supplements (After consultation with your pediatrician)
- Closely Monitored diet, with inclusions of Nuts, seeds, green leafy’s, yogurt, cheese (only if your child is non-allergic to dairy)
Usually, stats show that 70-80% of Allergic kids become tolerant to Milk by the age of 16, but, we need to focus a lot on their initial growth years.
Always go for milk alternates that are fortified with extra nutrients like Calcium, Vitamin D, B12 and similar. For this ensure to read the labels before buying any pack from the supermarket.
Here are some best alternatives to Cow Milk that you should add in your child’s diet :
1. Soy Milk:
I’m sure, your child might not like the taste of Soy Milk immediately, so take it little slowly. You can opt for some home crushed (very light) cocoa for added flavor.
The reason why Soy milk is the best alternative to Cow’s Milk is that SOY is one of the only plant-based source, which has “Complete Protein” in itself. Soy Milk equals in terms of protein with cow milk but has lesser calories, fats, and carbs. If your child’s body accepts SOY protein, this is truly one of the best Cow Milk Alternative.
You can read more about Soy’s and health here, but It’s always best to discuss any concerns with your pediatrician.
2. Almond Milk:
This light sweet milk is a family favorite for us and it is one of the very important health drink in many advanced Asian countries. But if it is compared to cow’s milk, it is less in all nutrients, like Proteins, fats, calories, and carbs. So, you can rely on Almond milk for your child, with some additions in the diet for more proteins and calories or prefer fortified Almond Milk (if available and do read out the labels)
I’m not certain of the Almond Milk availability, so we usually make this simple drink at home. The only disadvantage of making it at home is that it cannot be fortified with Vitamins and calcium. But yes, you can at least start with it, in case you’re not able to find the right Almond Milk on the shelves.
How to make Almond Milk?
- Soak the desired quantity of almonds (at least one cup) for around 36 – 48 hours. The more they are soaked the better the almond milk tastes. In between, you can keep washing the almonds and soak it back in pure water.
- Wash and drain all the almond water and now put almonds and water in a blender. Allow it to grind and mix well for the next 2-3 minutes.
- Strain the milk via clean Muslin cloth or a fine sieve. Press and try to extract as much milk as possible.
We usually do not add any sweetener, but you can add a pinch of syrup. For add on flavors, use Vanilla extract or go for fruity flavors adding Strawberries, Mango, Banana (as per your preference)
3. Oats Milk :
Quite a light sweet milk, having good calories, it is a very good alternative to cow’s milk. Though the protein content is lower that of Cow’s milk, it is still rich in proteins. But it is also high in carbs, yet can be a good choice for growing children. Oats milk is rich in fibers and thus it is perfect in maintaining gut health and also reduces bad cholesterol levels.
Though I couldn’t find Oat Milk in supermarkets, hence I opted to make it at home, as it is really very simple.
Oats are Soy-Free and Gluten-free, and hence Oats Milk can be suitable for Vegan/Gluten Intolerant people as well.
How to make Oats Milk?
- Soak rolled oats overnight and clean them with fresh water thoroughly.
- For one cup soaked oats, add at least 4 cups water to get creamier milk for kids. For added sweetness, you can add 2 dates (an added source of protein). A pinch of salt gives it a good taste.
- Add Oats, water, salt, dates into the blender. Blend it for max 1 minute (don’t over-blend here).
- Strain it via clean muslin cloth and you’re ready with the Oats Milk.
If you feel your kids don’t like the flavor, a little bit of cocoa or vanilla can do the wonders. Just like almond milk, you can also add berries here for fruity flavor, which kids will love.
4. Coconut Milk :
Though Coconut milk tastes good and kids are almost certain to like it, but when it comes to nutritional value, it has nearly zero proteins and carbs required for growing kids. So, as per our pediatrician, Coconut Milk can be consumed in moderate amounts, but cannot be completely relied on for daily nutritional needs of growing kids.
There are other options as Rice Milk also, which can be made at home. But if kids diet is high on Rice, then you’ll love to go for the above variations. Also, if you’re buying any variant from the market, check it for added sugars and also check that it is fortified with Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D so that these substitutes serve the purpose for growing kids.
I hope that this article [in direct talks with a renowned pediatrician of Delhi], helped you decide for the right choice.